Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Ruler

We're still in Taipei.
Not literally, but in terms of my recap we're still there.
Who feels like this trip lasted forever?

I'm going to wrap up Taipei with tomorrow's post and move on to Hong Kong on Monday (no worries Judy!).

R is for Ruler

Not the kind that measures.
The kind that rules and then after his death ends up with a beautiful monument and memorial built in his honor.

The Chaing-Kai shek Memorial- I attempt to insert some Chinese history here?

In a nutshell (a very small nutshell)...Chaing-Kai Shek was a political and military leader and head of China's Military Academy in the mid 1920's. He was a close ally of Sun Yat-sen (first President and founding father of the Republic of China) and in the early 20's led something called the Northern Expedition to unify the country. He then became its leader (Sun Yat-sen died in 1925). Fast forward to the mid-1940's and civil war had resumed. Chiang's government was forced to retreat to Taiwan and while he declared his intention to retake Mainland China he instead ruled the island of Taiwan until his death in 1975.

History buffs please forgive.
I don't want to comment on his leadership style and definitely don't know enough to weigh in on good vs. evil here, but I do know this-his memorial is spectacular.

After Chaing-Kai Shek's death in 1975 a funeral committee was established to build a memorial. A competition was held and the winning design was created by an architect named Yang Cho-chen. Let me tell you, Yang Cho-chen had some serious talent. When you round the corner into the space it kinda takes your breath away.

The buildings on the left and right are The National Concert Hall and The National Theatre and they are stunning.

The whole memorial area reminded me somewhat of The Washington Mall in that it's a long open space with a monument at one end.

Inside that monument sits a man in a big chair.
Chaing Kai-shek.

Two guards stand frozen in place at the memorial. Frozen as in they do not blink for one solid hour. I'm not kidding-they don't blink.

At all.
For one solid hour.
I'm not sure how that's done but I have a theory.

Changing of the guard happens every hour-

Fascinating to watch up close-

Incredible precision-

and focus-

I love the way travel opens the door into another culture...the food, the language, the people, their traditions. The world is so big and the more I see the more I realize how much more I have/want/need to see.

"There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign."
~Robert Louis Stevenson


  1. Do they hold those positions for one whole hour? How is that possible? Are they SuperHumans?

  2. On the one hand, I love the reverence and beauty of memorials like this. On the other, I can't help but think of the good we could do if we devoted this much time, money and attention to the LIVING rather than the dead.

  3. I love your saying at the end. I think it is how my husband led his life until his stroke. He's been every where and loved the traveling. Now, it's just not so much fun for him.

  4. I feel the same about traveling as you, Joyce.

  5. I totally understand how the more you see the more you want/need to see... I just wish I could be "Jeannie" and blink myself there!

  6. Wow, the guards don't blink for an hour??? BTW, I checked out The Lumberjack's Wife's blog. Loved it!

  7. How do you remember all this history stuff? :) After seeing so many historic buildings it would all be a blur to me. But I love reading about it here.

  8. Wow-that was stunning! I couldn't be that still if my life depended on it!

  9. Wow What a monument! I love it that your adding the history in different places. I am going to hate when this is over, going to miss traveling with you!
    until next time... nel

  10. Not blinking for an entire hour? That's just crazy! My eyes would be killing me! I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed reading your tales of all your exciting travels!

  11. I have always been fascinated by the Chinese (and Japanese)people. I love their culture, traditions, history. I would love to visit.
    Thanks for posting about your visit. (I am so envious) :)

  12. Just to answer a couple of questions-I jot down notes when I travel. I often take pictures of signs when we visit tourist sites so I'll remember the history and description. I could never rely on my memory for all that!

    While the monuments are costly they do bring in mega tourist dollars to their respective cities so perhaps that helps balance things out somewhat.

    About the blinking-I feel like they must give them some sort of drops to aid in the no-blink thing. It is amazing to watch though!

    Thanks for traveling along with me...National Geographic is nice but its not like being there in person!!

  13. Whew! I am so relieved! I'm happy my nightmare will not be reality. I laughed outloud.

  14. You could see the grandeur even in your pictures. You captured it nicely! I am loving this tour and if I ever get to go to Asia, I will come back and read these posts all over again. You make a great tour guide!

  15. Your pictures are beautiful. I really do enjoy looking at the architecture of the buildings. You can't go someplace for a few weeks and put it all into one post! No boredom here.

  16. I cannot believe they could hold a single position for an hour.
    Amazing pics.

    Sonia Lal, R is for Reading, @ Story Treasury